View Full Version : Guilty River
12-18-2007, 05:36 PM
The following narratives are a series I wrote as we searched the river each day looking for a friend's lost son. I 'd like to share them with you together with some of the images along the river that took him.
Todayís walk was different from all others. As always I still had Toby by my side and in addition today I had a good friend walk each step of the way for support. The river was like a mill pond, still dark and deep. It was a crisp autumn morning with a slight chill in the gentle breeze that blew in from the wide lough. Far in the distance there was a hazy mist cloaking the surrounding hills like the purple cloth placed over the mirrors in a wake house.
The walk was silent with every step on the gravel bank sounding like a beat on a drum. Slow and steady. Eyes sweeping the mirror like water looking for any sign, just a hint of something floating, if only.
For us today the birds flying over head did not get a second glance. They could always be seen another day, another better time. Even Toby sensed the difference today and his normal sweeping runs and wagging tail were gone. He walked with his head bowed down sniffing every clump of sea weed or debris washed up on the shore from this mornings high tide.
The deathly bridge, grey , cold and heartless stood rigid on the horizon high overhead abdicating itís part in this tragedy. Why could it not be brought to boot and screens erected on itís sides to stop this ever happening again.
What price was being paid now by the family searching these river banks in more hope than certainty.
By Gerry Temple
12-18-2007, 05:38 PM
Toby's tail did not wag today
12-18-2007, 05:40 PM
It was one of those days when I needed to get the cobwebs blown out of my head. Every second of watching that river was hurting. Every ripple on a piece of floating weed grabbed my attention only to dash my hopes as the weed came into view.
As the light was starting to fade a quick dash in the car had me on the top of the Grianan of Aileach. There was no gentle breeze there, more a force four gale whipping across the mountain tops.
It soon blew the smell of me and sharpened by senses.
From the vantage point standing high on the ancient stone ring fort the colours close by were like rich brown gravy left out in the sun and now crusty on top. The distant hills looked grey compared to the vibrant colours in the valley below.
Then soaring high overhead not one but two magnificent golden eagles twisted and turned as they danced across the sky. The big feathers at the end of each wing twitching like the pianists fingers and the flicked across the ivories.
What a sight to help life my spirits.
By Gerry Temple
12-18-2007, 05:44 PM
They looked to all the world like a couple very much in love as they danced around each other so gracefully. She was preened to perfection and the sunlight just glowed and shimmered as it bounced of her gleaming appearance.
His masculine stance was unmistakable with his broad chest stuck out and his stomach as tight as a drum. Their limbs outstretched pointing at each other seductively as they moved around each other slowly and sensually their eyes totally focused on each other.
Their matching coloured outfits of tawny brown with highlights of black and gold perfect for this occasion. The grace with which the swept past each other so close but not just touching. Teasing and enticing each other to make the first move, the first gentle gesture, more than that look of passion.
The tips of their wings flexed expertly to hold them perfectly in this dance of love and they swirled high above me on the brown, grey topped mountain.
That pair of golden eagles were very much a couple in love.
By Gerry Temple
12-18-2007, 05:48 PM
We went for a walk somewhere new to us. The hill we were to climb wasnít a challenge, physically. The slope was steady and grip was good. The summit wasnít to high above us when we set out from the car park at the base. But this hill wasnít made of Granite or slate. It wasnít cut from the ground by long melted ice or carved by the steady flow of a river.
This hill was the place for many deaths. Sad deaths. Sadder than most deaths. This hill was made of concrete and steel, coated in tarmac and lowered onto plinths to span the brown churning water far below. I was going to use the hill to help the family of the lost recover their son.
From that exposed perch armed with my binoculars I could see more of the rivers muddy banks far below. The banks lined by bowing brown and gold trees steadily dropping their now crunchy leaves like the poppies falling on those at a Remembrance event.
The icy wind sliced through me with the ease of razor wire cutting the bodies of soldiers in a far away battle field. My fleece pulled way up and hat pulled way down still allowed some skin to be exposed and the wind soon found it and nipped at it with ease.
I swept the banks brown and black with clumps of fawn reeds catching anything washed down by the falling tide. But within an hour I had tears in my eyes. Was it the blast of the wind or the strain of peering through the glasses. Maybe Iíd be honest and say it was not the pain in my limbs or face but the pain I felt in my heart for the family waiting at home for their son to be returned to them.
By Gerry Temple
12-18-2007, 05:54 PM
I stood quietly on the crest of the bridge scanning the muddy brown waters that bubbled and moved far below. The fawn reeds on the bank down stream made it impossible to walk the very soft muddy edge. High tide had left a new bounty to be checked, stuck in every gully and inlet of the wandering bank. The breeze was cutting on my high perch but at least today it was a dry wind and the cold hadnít yet penetrated my bones.
Far below I could see activity as vans and cars disgorged their cargo of alien like people, moving awkwardly and slowly, weighted down by life giving cylinders and heavy lead belts. Coming up river two boats speed their wake frothing creamy white against the dark brown waters below. I wonder did Uncle Arthur once see this and use the idea for his favourite pint?
Ropes and lines ran out as the aliens disappeared into the brown swirling graveyard. They were entering a territory only the brave would dare go.They went without pomp of ceremony, no fan fair playing, no glow of the media attention given to stars.
On the bank stood a lonely man who had aged twenty years this past long week. There were people all around him but his loneliness and grief cried to the God above, give us back our son.
Today was the day we hoped that prayer would be answered. Time would tell if our prayer would be answered.
By Gerry Temple
12-18-2007, 05:59 PM
As we walked today the rain was coming in horizontally and penetrating to places Iíd forgotten I had. My boots soon went from light brown to a Guinness black, not really black but more dark ruby and hidden. The army surplus poncho covered everything but let the water sneak in and brought in the cold with it. The leggings kept my legs dry until I stepped of a rock and sank up to my knee in sludge.
When someone turned the tap on full I scrambled under a sagging oak some shelter and to catch my breath. It was there sitting on the rock that I looked at the grey dry stone wall marking the perimeter of a distant landlord. Just grey stone.
But the closer I looked the more colour I seen. The bright yellow of the lichen that clung to the sunny side of every stone. The tiny green leaves of the mossy plants that made the nooks and crannies their own far from grazing sheep. Then with a burst of bright red hopping in and out of the deep holes in the wall. Had she a family nesting deep in that haven or was he the provider for his young family of next yearís Christmas card images.
Toby sat fascinated by the cheek of this Robin as he flicked pebbles to find life about to be consumed.
Even in what looked just lifeless stone nature had flourished and made itís own. Where there is life there is hope. Where there is hope there is happiness.
Not much happiness today but maybe tomorrow.
Please God tomorrow.
By Gerry Temple
12-18-2007, 06:01 PM
This morning was so different, so still, so calm so quiet. The steep pathway down by the bridge went down into a thick blanket of grey. Like a child hiding a wet bed by holding the duvet tight over their head the river was hiding itís guilt. At the bottom of the path I knew the river was out there, somewhere, hiding, shamed.
The blanket of fog was so thick the bridge high above was invisible but for the rumble of traffic racing across it. In the distance the whale song of the cranes downstream was like a lament and the thud of cargo dropping in a hold sounded like the muffled drum leading a funeral.
The mud was brown and black and the water touching at the distant edge was still as glass.
Maybe today God.
By Gerry Temple
12-18-2007, 06:03 PM
The winter sun shines brighter than at any time during the so called summer. Now it never climbs high in the sky and always looks to be pointing sharply into my squinting eyes as I walk by the river.
For all that brightness it doesnít share much of itís heat with me. The early morning frost penetrating and cracking the soil on the river bank coating everything in a blanket of brilliant white crystals. That coating of white doesnít make the clamber over already slimy boulders any more pleasant when I have to reach out and use a third limb to keep my balance. Or worse when clambering becomes crawling and those frozen blocks pass their temperature through these wafer thin jeans.
The other curse of the blanket of white is that everything looks the same and every bump or lump has to be turned to see what secrets lay below. The slightest of breezes cuts bare skin like a thousand needles without the benefit of the artists ink for comfort.
Itís two weeks tonight and things are looking bad. The old sea dogs say that if itís not up after ten it could be six weeks before she delivers her treasure to us and failing that itís towards Scotland we need to be looking.
Please God no.
Please God. Please.
By Gerry Temple
12-18-2007, 06:05 PM
What a difference a day makes. The driving rain and cold with wind blow clouds dark grey in the sky promising more misery has passed over and today is calm dry day. The Sun is doing itís best to warm the chill from my bones as we walk along. Itís funny the way that cold weak sunshine can lift your spirits.
The trees along the river bank look to have been ravaged by yesterdays sharp gale ripping at the last few leaves clinging on for life. One dark tree has lost every leaf but the crab apples are holding tight and refusing to be dashed on the rocky shore below.
The river looks kinder today with we can but hope that she will be generous as well as kind.
Time will tell.
By Gerry Temple
12-18-2007, 06:07 PM
Thank God for today's news that a body has been recovered from the river today.
Now at least his family can put him to rest in peace.
12-18-2007, 06:11 PM
The Young Oak
The rain coming down like stair rods dancing on the streets all night. The storm drains straining with the Minnie torrents pushing and shoving like shoppers at a sale, looking to be at the front, sweeping aside anything in their path, uncaring. The black clouds hid the sun trying to rise and even the legions of black crows stayed huddled on the branches of the now naked limbs of standing trees.
I stopped by the river, safe in tin box music playing and heater humming along trying hard to keep the glass clear of mist. The brown river below was in angry mood today. No one dare step onto her sandbanks today deep within her bosom. Nothing scattered along her banks stood any chance as she swept everything away that displeased her.
Then I saw a young oak spin slowly past. The symbol of our town, tall regal and strong. But this young oak had dared to venture to close to her deep dark waters and when her anger was up she plucked him from her vulnerable banks. He didnít stand a chance.
What a waste to see this vibrant young oak lay dead and passing along on its final journey. His potential never to be experienced by all that came in contact with him. What greatest he could have achieved. What shelter he could have provided to others. What young oaks he could have sired in the many years in front of him.
But it wasnít to be. Too close to this angry river and she snatched it all away.
Robbing us all of more than we will ever know.
By Gerry Temple
12-18-2007, 11:37 PM
Gerry, what a moving story.:hug:
12-18-2007, 11:48 PM
It's going to be an awful Christmas for the family
12-19-2007, 01:02 AM
I was there at the time of that tradgey and saw how it shook everybody with that young boy's death.
Gerry paced the riverbank, day after day, stumbling over rocks and getting tangled up in kelp. He had segs on his eyeballs looking at that river for any sign of young Mr Kelly.
It shook us all greatly.
12-19-2007, 08:32 AM
It will be an awful Christmas for the family, i understand only to well the situation. We can only all think of them at this time. Time is supposed to be a great healer. My thoughts are with the family.
12-19-2007, 10:23 AM
A very moving and tragic story. Thanks for sharing this with us. I took the liberty of posting a link to this thread on a poetry site. Your narrative was read by Turkish poet Nia Sunset who wrote "it is so hard for family of course so tragical event! Do you know, this reminded me another story that I watched on National Geographic channel, and I wrote a poem also I made a video recording for this tragic event, Tsangpo river...."
As you see, her video, made in 2005, is called "Innocent River".
12-19-2007, 11:17 AM
Now that is truly beautiful.
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